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American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
01-01-2015
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
01-11-2014
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
01-04-2014
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2014
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
10-01-2013
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
07-01-2013
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
04-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
10-01-2012
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-07-2012
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-04-2012
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
01-01-2012
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
01-10-2011
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
01-07-2011
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
01-04-2011
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
01-01-2011
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
10-01-2010
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
07-01-2010
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
04-01-2010
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
01-01-2010
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
Side Photo for The Big Stupid Review

The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI

By Thor Garcia

In which our heroine joins the revolution.

Sixteen

"We need violence, riots, assassinations, to make this revolution go!" screamed by Count Rodrigue Artemis "Bill" Archimedes di Anchovie VII.

He marched around the ballroom where the hopeful prerevolutionaries had gathered, waving his hands. "Blood is the price to pay to make our demands heard! Aye, an eye for an eye – that's how you impose change on those unwilling to adapt to the imperatives of justice! Let the scoundrels know we're not going anywhere until we've got justice and peace and things the way we want them!"

"Hear, hear!" chanted the pre-revolutionaries. "Aye, aye!"

"As of today, comrades," continued Bill Anchovie, "we have 14 containers of rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, along with 29 crates of grenades and ammunition, positioned in farmhouses and underground bunkers throughout the country. We will begin separating into clandestine assassination units, to train marksmen and bomb-makers and begin the process of dismantling this regime one filthy, corrupt solider and bureaucrat at a time."

"Aye, aye!" chanted the pre-revolutionaries. "Hear, hear!"

"We didn't start this bloodbath," continued Count Anchovie, "aye –but we shall finish it. On our terms! We have worked in secret for years for this opportunity, and we shall not waste it. And justice and peace shall prevail, and we shall have food for our babies and elderly denizens, and all the free money we may wish for."

"Hear, hear! Aye, aye!"

Just then a messenger arrived, accompanied by two armed guards from a private security company.

"Look," said a pre-revolutionary delegate, "the United States government has sent us a humanitarian aid package."

They set the box on the table. PULL HERE said the instructions in red letters.

"No, don't!" screamed Count Anchovie. "It's a trick!"

But it was too late – one of the curious pre-revolutionaries pulled the bright yellow tab.

There was a small explosion… then the box began to dance about of its own accord, unfolding as it shot off red, white and blue sparks. The contraption fell to the floor, there was another small bang and… Out popped the tanned and shirtless U.S.D.A.-certified peace guru and professional revolutionary protest agitator Saul Zimmerfrei Hudson Gladio "Jim" Arrowstrike Withers. Speakers hidden within the foam packaging played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the Judy Garland version.

Arrowstrike Withers struck a pose – legs wide, sculpted biceps rippling. His rich, brown hair flowed back like a cape, blown by a suddenly appearing breeze.

"Those who want blood, they will choke on their own blood," declared Arrowstrike Withers, reading from a text prepared by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). "We must look truth in the eyes, my friends. When ye choose to fight violence with violence, ye are fighting against the best weapons of your opponents. Surely, that is folly. Ye must be smarter. We are sure of it, because we have spent millions studying it at NASA, Cal Tech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technocracy."

"Aye, aye," shouted a number of the delegates. "Hear, hear!"

"Perhaps ye may be asking, Why is not your nation democratic and wealthy?" continued Arrowstrike Withers, pacing back and forth before the would-be revolutionaries. "Are your people too stupid? Have they not been smart, ruthless and competent enough to throw off a foolhardy dictator whose regime is a byword for stupidity, cruelty and incompetence? Has your foolish dictator been senselessly backed by the Soviets or China or the USA, or France or the formerly Great Britain, for decades? Does your regime enjoy death squads, and were those death-squads trained at the finest deathsquad schools the USA can offer? Have your corporations gone all global, and are they lying, thieving, stealing and failing to provide decent services, driving the nation ever deeper into poverty and self-loathing?"

"Hear, hear!" shouted a number of the delegates. "Aye, aye!"

"As an American, I am qualified to tell ye the answer to your problem is simple," Arrowstrike Withers went on. "Times have changed again – everything is new once more. Listen to my advice, and ye shall witness peace and equality in your own time. Your people will rise up and join the community of civilized, peace-loving nations."

"Aye-aye! Hear hear!"

"It starts with losing fear, embracing hope, love and forgiveness, while simultaneously insisting on your slice of the pie," said Arrowstrike Withers. "Plus – and this is non-negotiable – promise to apply for NATO membership and/or allow a U.S. base or secret biological weapons laboratory to be established on your territory, for whatever purpose the Americans desire. Also, offer to guarantee all U.S. companies tax-free status to open up and exploit your markets and people, for perpetuity. And if you have oil, natural gas or morgellon deposits, the Americans and/or their European lapdogs will gladly handle that for you – contracts, contracts, contracts! Then, my friends – and only then – will ye begin to see results. Your revolution will gain pace and momentum. Down this rotten regime will collapse. Regime change will be in the house!"

"Aye, aye!" chanted the delegates. "Yip, yip!"

"No!" screamed Count Anchovie. "It's a mistake! It's a set-up! The Americans are double-dealing! The regime will crush us like bugs, and the Americans will be nowhere to be found. At best, we shall wake up to find ourselves just a newer version of Puerto Rico or Nebraska! At worst, we shall become the next Somalia!"

"Fear not," responded Arrowstrike Withers. "If ye doubt, like this young fellow – if ye fear – then your opponents have already won. Why the fear, young sir? Who here is afraid of a little democracy and profit-sharing? Not I!"

"Not I! Not I!" shouted the delegates. "Aye, aye! Yip, yip!"

"Above all, we must keep it democratic," continued Arrowstrike. "And we must acquire colors and symbols, and stage mock funeral processions and boycotts. Rally-Around Ye Olde Oak Tree kind of images. Sing with me: Because there is a time, there is a season, turn, turn, turn… the sparkle in your eyes, it keeps me alive… wish you were here, another brick in the wall, shine on you crazy diamond. Yes, you see? Because this will bring about global media attention. People will think you have something important to say, that your grievances are legitimate. The regime will tremble, the regime will doubt – the regime, abandoned by the Americans, will no longer know whom its friends are. Then you will bring the regime to its knees and you may establish democratic institutions of fairness and wealth redistribution, if that is what ye shall desire, and ye shall place your people in charge and the system shall work for ye now. And the Americans shall praise ye and send their companies and troops to set up bases, and the girls will be forever naked and everyone shall dance."

"Aye, aye!" shouted the delegates. "America the brave!"

"No!" screamed Count Anchovie. "No no no no no no no no no no!"

"Aye, but yes," said Arrowstrike Withers. "What we say is: Better the Americans than the Chinese or Russians, or the Indians or Germans or Brazilians. Would ye wish some greasy, one-toothed foreigner telling you the way it's going to be in your fine nation? Or would ye prefer to follow the dictates of a good, strong, clean, bold American white or black man, whose failings are profound but who can guarantee – guarantee , my friends – delivery unto this nation better Hollywood movies, tortilla chips, cream-filled cakes, NBA basketball playoffs, celebrity-focused internet sites, reeeeeal cheddar cheese, gangsta rap and radar-evading jet fighters than anybody? This, my friends, is guaranteed. And in this way, America staves off its own collapse for a few more years, or speeds its collapse by a number of years, no one is really sure. In any case, ye shall see some mighty good shows."

"Hear, hear!" shouted a number of delegates. "Aye, America the brave! America the free!"

"I must, however, warn ye," continued Arrowstrike, "that any deviation from this path and the United States of America shall ensure that ye shall find yourself before war-crimes tribunals, and your fine nation mired in recessions and depressions and United Nations Security Council sanctions. That is the policy of the gentlemen in Washington. And if events conspire down this path, ye are of course more than welcome to turn against America. You are a free nation, after all. Invade some neighboring country, embrace Islam, get all commie and call us the Great Bugaboo – whatever. And if that be ye choice, it is ye that America shall bomb, sooner or later. Because we in Washington do have our requirements. So the choice is yours. What shall it be? There is no evidence I ever existed. So why not let's have us a rollicking little bit of regime change? Huh? Huh? Why not? What say ye?"

"Hear, hear!" chanted the delegates, breaking into applause. "America the brave! America the beautiful!"

"Well, then – so what is the color of your revolution?" queried Arrowstrike Withers. "And do you already have a mascot – perhaps a stork or porcupine of some kind? A pine cone, a kiwi, or perhaps an easily rememberable date, such as July 4? A mascot, a name, a brand, you see, is of the utmost essence. Marketing, marketing, marketing! Quality marketing absolves the failure of content. Marketing is the prism through which the world now sees the world. Quality marketing equals quality perception equals quality sales. And it has been proven beyond question that the Freedom Concept is the world's reigning Quality Market-Share Solution. People are incapable of concentrating for long, thus something cute and easily rememberable is needed to jog their memories and inspire their sympathy and provoke their quality support and purchasing power, which is manifest in television ratings and unique internet hits. Well, so let us now see what the data suggests."

Arrowstrike removed a small, blinking contraption from his brown leather satchel and inserted a series of data-chips. They contained clips and photographs from several protests, including the one that was mercilessly crushed by the authorities the previous summer. Images flashed upon the wall: Frail, earnest bearded men addressing the crowd. Paper banners waving in the foreground of a crisp blue sky. Cleo laying prone, bloodied and bruised. Crowds of panicked peasants fleeing. Black helicopters in the sky above, shooting bombs and lasers. A crying, filthy child holding a banana that had been smushed by the panicked crowds.

The contraption at last beeped and spit out a card containing the suggested formula:

DEMOCRACY = FREEDOM
FREEDOM + BANANA = FUN / ENJOY
BLOODIED BLOND GIRL + FUN / ENJOY + DEMOCRACY = PEACE FREEDOM
DEMOCRACY + BANANA – VIOLENCE + BLOND = ENJOYPEACEFUN
FREEDOM + FUN / ENJOY = PEACEDEMOCRACYFUN
PEACEDEMOCRACYFUN = BLOND REVOLUTION
BLOND REVOLUTION!! = PEACE 4 FUN FREEDOM

"So there you have it," pronounced Arrowstrike Withers. "Survey says… The Blond Revolution!! – Peace 4 Fun Freedom, or The Blond Revolution!!, P4FF, whose symbol is a banana. Brought to you by Bang Burger Boom™, or BBB – America's Baconiest Burger®."

"Aye-aye! Hear hear! Hoo-ray! Yip, yip!"

"Yes, the quality looks strong," pronounced Arrowstrike Withers. "We got it goin' on – pretty young dead blond girl in the street, child holding smushed banana, earnest bearded men. File the paperwork and ye shall receive the banana bunting, the banana flags, the banana logos, the blond wigs, the professionally prepared amateur videos featuring our beards, our dead blond girl and the banana child. The Americans shall covertly fly in the massive liquid-crystal screens for our mass protests, which ye shall demand be held in the center of town without the proper permits. This is peace, after all. Plus, bacon cheeseburgers for everyone. It's a deal done."

"But, but, but – but she's not dead," said one of the delegates.

"Who's not dead?" said Arrowstrike Withers.

"The dead blond girl," said the delegate, raising his hand and pointing at Cleo. "You said she's dead. But I see her right now here."

"Ah," said Arrowstrike, "her. But she is dead. Indeed she is."

He smiled at Cleo. Cleo smiled back.

"But, but, but – but she's not dead," insisted the delegate. "She is not dead, good sir."

"Aye," said Arrowstrike Withers. "My very, very good, good sir – she is. Oh, but she is. She is very, very dead."

"Okay," said the delegate. "If you say so."

"Now," said Arrowstrike briskly, "please separate into committees to draft your list of democratic demands and requirements. This is the crucial part of your peace platform. Remember: Ye shall never negotiate on your key democratic demands! Ye shall not budge on democracy! No negotiations with murderous, dictatorial regimes!"

"We want the freedom to marry goats," said one faction in an early position paper distributed throughout the committees.

"So ye shall have it," said Arrowstrike Withers.

"We want freedom to execute the infidels who do not swear allegiance to our faction and follow our rules," said another.

"So ye shall," said Arrowstrike Withers.

"We want the freedom to be free from all rules," wrote a third group.

"Yes, excellent," pronounced Arrowstrike. "The Executive Correspondence Committee will iron out the final text in the Articles of Confederation. And now for the rest of you: This group here shall go on a hunger strike. This committee here shall agitate on the internet sites. This group shall spread rumors about the regime, while this group shall distribute genuine American dollar bills in tiny villages with a banana inked slyly on the lower left-hand corner. This group here shall make pro-revolution videos involving pubescent blond girls slyly displaying their breasts and buttocks, which shall be covered with banana tattoos. The videos shall go viral and be a big worldwide internet hit on the worldwide web, thus spinning worldwide opinion in our favor. Because the world so doth love the breasts and buttocks of young girls. And this group here will meet with me to plan a staged massacre implicating the authorities in the cruel slaughter of unarmed children, women and grandmothers. I do believe I already have a site in mind. Because, dear fellows, ye must destabilize in order to bring about a new stability, for such is the natural order of things…"

Up jumped Anchovie, the idealistic count who could not resist Arrowstrike's rippling, veined muscle and authority of command.

"I, sir," he said, "w-w-w-would like to volunteer to be the new p-p-ppresident."

"Oh, yes?" said Arrowstrike.

"Yes!" shouted the delegates. "Yes! Yes!"

"Count Anchovie for president?" queried Arrowstrike. "The kindly count?"

"Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-ray!" shouted the delegates. "Hoo-ray for new President Anchovie!"

"Then it is done," said Arrowstrike, clapping the newly minted Blond Revolutionary on the shoulder. "President ye shall be."

"Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-ray!" shouted the delegates. "Hoo-ray for new President Anchovie! Yip, yip!"

"Come," said Arrowstrike Withers, "let's all have some Freedom Fries, shall we? A planeload has just arrived from Virginia."

Seventeen

CLOWN: The democratic republic's heroic intelligence agencies say evidence indicates that unscrupulous American dogs have masterminded this so-called counter-revolutionary Blond Revolution. As you know, Bobinka, under American direction, these counter-revolutionaries carried out the so-called Dungheap Massacre, in which several corpses were unearthed from the cemetery and left in the street for the American propaganda media to discover and spread lies about. Our intelligence agencies inform that the massacre was in fact perpetrated by a U.S. commando army dressed as a team of lacrosse-playing missionaries… Despite these crude provocations, the government, including First Brother Commander-In-Chief President Francis Eruct Gaydolph Gauch Enderby Malphigian, have repeatedly offered to meet with the Blond counter-revolutionaries without pre-conditions. But these so-called Blonds insist on the resignation of the government before any negotiations. It seems, in fact, that their strategy is to block any prospect of negotiations and instead push forward with their so-called counterrevolution, at the behest and direction of the American vermin, who are seeking to subjugate our heroic nation of the people as part of their undemocratic regime of global domination. There are also, of course, the same tired accusations of a nuclear weapons program and weapons of mass destruction, though the government has made clear innumerable times that our nuclear and morgellons development program is for the peaceful generation of electricity and morgellons only…

Within days, thousands of Blond Revolution protesters had assembled as advertised in the capital's main square. Several days of agitation went by peacefully, and news of the Blond Revolution and videos of nude young girls had begun to appear on several global blogs and television sites. Meanwhile, the authorities under First Brother Commander President Malphigian were mobilizing their tank battalions and helicopters and dressing their soldiers in latex and black armor, as required under a billion-dollar military aid agreement the regime had signed with the United States six months earlier.

CLOWN: The main demands of these heroic Blond Revolutionaries, Stu, include a court-martial military trial of government officials, an end to military trials of civilians, an end to torture, a complete purge of officials occupying senior ministry and administrative posts, the public trial of the undemocratically elected President Gaydolph Malphigian and his corrupt minions in a United Nations-sanctioned international tribunal, and a fair redistribution of the nation's wealth. And the list goes on – I've mentioned just the main points. I think all of our viewers will agree that these are reasonable demands that are universal in their appeal. It's worth pointing out, Andy, that one thing that has really galvanized these protesters was the massacre of 55 unarmed women and babies by regime gunmen last week in what has become known here as the ‘Manure Heap Massacre.' As you remember, Bill, we reported from the scene of that massacre and found it to be beyond the pale of civilized democratic civilization – really, something worse than Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. officials. This savage massacre of unarmed, democratic protesters has of course been condemned by the world community. My anonymous sources in the U.S. military say Washington has not ruled out any contingency, especially considering the regime's possession of alleged nuclear weapons and morgellons of mass destruction, not to mention links to antidemocratic terrorists. They have sent word through private channels to the stubborn Gaydolph Malphigian regime that the United States and NATO forces will not accept any further massacres of unarmed pro-democratic reformist protesting democratic demonstrators. And they are also demanding an end to the undemocratically-elected Gaydolph regime's nuclear morgellons program and links to terrorists, child molesters and drug traffickers. So that's the word from here in this capital, where democracy seems to be afoot. Back to you in New York, Jim…

On the fourth day, the regime finally began to crack. There had been several closed-door United Nations Security Council sessions devoted to the crisis, and sanctions targeting senior regime figures and their associates were averted only after Russia, China and Ghana refused to sign on, saying such a step could set a dangerous precedent and pave the way for an American-led bombing campaign and covert arming of the rebel forces.

Then, in what was seen as a devastating blow to the regime, several senior ministers resigned from the Malphigian cabinet after being bribed by junior Swiss diplomats acting under U.S. instruction. In what was described as an ominous signal, the USS Larry King Jr. hovered into the vicinity the following Tuesday, accompanied by its full complement of F-66 attack fighters, Adonis-class amphibious assault vehicles and Klondike strike helicopters.

According to state-controlled U.S. media, the American president had sent word through Poland that he was "fed up with Gaydolph Malphigian's facial expressions and hand gestures, and was expecting action." Faced with these setbacks, within days President Malphigian was forced to dispatch a team of envoys to negotiate a peaceful surrender of power to the Blond Banana Revolutionaries and to form a Blond-led government of national reconciliation and wealth-sharing.

"No! No! No sellouts!" screamed President-In-Waiting Anchovie, waving the Blond Banana banner. "We shall not negotiate with these swine! To the parliament we must go!"

Anchovie looked at his cell-phone. Yes, Arrowstrike had given the thumbs-up. The moment had come.

Anchovie hopped aboard his tractor, revved the engine and began to lead the revolutionary convoy into the center of downtown. Thousands of onlookers cheered as Count Rodrigue Artemis "Bill" Archimedes di Anchovie VII simultaneously drove and waved the banana flag. Behind him, thousands of supporters crammed onto tractors, bicycles and cars, revving their engines and waving banners calling for "Blond Justice Now."

From his perch atop the National Opera House, Saul Zimmerfrei Hudson Gladio "Jim" Arrowstrike Withers listened to his crackling radio. Yes, the Army Rangers were in position. Everything had clicked smoothly into place.

Arrowstrike lowered the laser sight and took aim. He squeezed the trigger. Bill Anchovie's head exploded. His body flew out of the tractor seat and smashed into a crowd of protesters, killing several.

Goddamn fruitcake wino, thought Arrowstrike. That guy had been hell to deal with. Fucker had personally mown down more than 30 of those peasants at Dungheap. Best to get rid of the evidence. The official documents would tell half of the truth later. But for now, the people needed a fresh martyr.

Sirens began to wail as the regime's forces clanked into action. A fleet of black helicopters rose up behind the presidential palace. Tanks and armored personnel carriers powered out of parking garages.

"REVOLUTIONARIES WHO OBEY THE LAW HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR," boomed a voice from loudspeakers mounted on the tops of the tanks. "ALL RIGHTS OF THE LAW-ABIDING REVOLUTIONARIES WILL BE RESPECTED. REGISTER TO VOTE. PAY TAXES. SUPPORT YOUR ELECTED LEADERS AND MILITARY. GO HOME AND GET BACK TO WORK. IF YOU RETURN TO WORK, YOUR REVOLUTIONARY RIGHTS WILL BE RESPECTED&hellip"

Arrowstrike Withers took aim and squeezed, hitting several regime soldiers in the face, shattering their plastic visors. They crumpled to the ground, eruptions of brain matter and blood spraying in the glare of the streetlamps.

Arrowstrike lowered his sight and took aim. His next shot popped police lieutenant Jeremy Blump in the neck. Jeremy clutched at his Adam's apple and fell against a cement barrier.

Regime helicopters, tanks and soldiers opened fire haphazardly, gunning down rows of protesters.

The severely bearded artist Romero Mario Tuttle Grippenswoggle "Steve" Vander Buttle was zapped with a strike from a marshmallow freezebomb gun. He slumped to the ground.

"No, Steve! No!" wailed Cleo, who had been marching hand in hand with the visionary art practitioner. She fell to her knees, cradled his head in her hands.

"Cleo," said Vander Buttle, who was now lying in a pool of his own blood, "never forget: You are the flame that burns within the fire. You are the flame that burns within the ocean. Tear it down, lift it up. There is no death but in life. There is no life but in death. The only purpose of life is to live. The only purpose of life is to die."

"But Mr Vander Buttle," pleaded Cleo. "Mr Vander Buttle, Steve…"

"Fear not, Cleo, for nothing is tragic," said the doomed artist. "We are all accessories to the nonexistent. If you want to understand the world, learn to think backwards. Honesty is never successful, for from the moment it succeeds, it is no longer honest… Also, there is no fair play in love or war, and life is nothing but war and love. The dead are still dead," said Vander Buttle, who then died.

"KEEP WORKING," the loudspeakers boomed. "GO HOME AND GO SHOPPING – REGISTER TO VOTE – THE PEACE DEPARTMENT AND COUNCIL OF WISDOM WILL CONSIDER YOUR DEMANDS AT A LATER DATE – RESPECT THE LAW AND YOUR RIGHTS WILL BE RESPECTED…"

From his perch atop the National Opera House, Arrowstrike Withers listened to his radio. Yes – it was under way. The Army Rangers had entered the presidential palace and Central Bank, securing the regime's hoard of 2,220 tons of gold and 41 metric tons of rare elvisium morgellon. Other Ranger units had formed a perimeter around the Ministry of Oil, Forestry, Morgellons and Mimes. Soon, the Rangers would break open the doors of parliament and allow the protesters to enter.

The regime was at an end, Arrowstrike thought with satisfaction. It had been discredited. People power had won again.

Downtown was incandescent, radiant with dozens of raging fires. Arrowstrike Withers could see soldiers handcuffed and lined up at the intersections, waiting to be hung from the streetlamps by the victorious revolutionaries.

The silver and black helicopter emerged from the darkness and descended toward the Opera House. It paused above Arrowstrike Withers and released a rope ladder. Arrowstrike grabbed hold of it and climbed to the open door.

Inside, Arrowstrike shook hands with a warmly smiling Sir Didier Ross O'Sullivan E. Neumann "Larry" Duclos-Dutroux.

Arrowstrike sat in the leather chair. Didier popped a bottle of champagne and filled two flutes.

"My compliments to the chef," said Didier as they clinked glasses. "A fine job, my good sir – a most delightful little revolution. Let me inform you that your funds have already been transferred to your unnumbered accounts in the Caicos and Wallonians, as instructed. Tee-hee!"

"Thank you, sir," said Arrowstrike Withers, leaning back and sighing. "And cheers on the new nose. Very nice."

"Oh, goody! You like it?"

"Very much so."

"Oh, how exquisite!" continued Didier. "Now then – when you see him, as I'm sure you will, please tell your Mr President that I am very, very much looking forward to seeing him at next month's reelection fundraiser at the White House. And please, fine sir, if you would – say hello to the First Lady and their lovely, lovely, lovely daughters…"

"I certainly, certainly… shall not," said Arrowstrike Withers.

"Shall not?"

"Yes. Shall not."

Arrowstrike Withers leaned forward and pushed the small green button behind his left ear. His face froze. There were several clicks and then an explosion. The helicopter was torn apart by the detonation, erupting in a fireball that streaked across the sky.

Cleo wandered through the chaos. On the street corner, she found her brother Jeremy, who was being kicked and stepped upon, while a third Blond revolutionary unspooled barbed wire in preparation for castration.

"Don't you dare!"

Cleo brushed past the revolutionaries and fell to her knees beside her younger brother. She lowered her head and began to suck his wound. Jeremy lay there unmoving. A large boom was heard in the sky. A burst of lights illumined the entire square.

Cleo raised her head, a stream of blood dripping from the corner of her mouth. A small girl walked up, holding a gun. "Here, sweetheart," said Cleo. "I'll take that from you. It's not…"

She stood and reached out for the weapon. The gun exploded. Cleo groaned and fell to the ground, clutching her stomach.

The girl dropped the weapon. She ran off.

"Trust no one," said Cleo, rolling on to her back, squishing blood through her fingers. "And money is the only thing that matters in this world… They will tear off your petals… They will turn you into a cocksucker… They will tell you it's fair… Your brothers and sisters are all you'll really ever have."

Revolutionaries ran on all sides, shouted, were eviscerated. Helicopters opened fire, scattering mobs attempting to enter parliament.

Cleo's eyes closed. Bubbles of blood appeared on her lips.

Cleo was lifted from the ground, into the air. She rose higher, finally disappearing into the smoke and fireworks.

Jeremy's eyes opened.

the end

This is the final excerpt from the short story collection Only Fools Die of Heartbreak published by Equus Press:

cover

© Thor Garcia 2013